Electric Dreams

Hope For the Dream Art Underachiever

Linda Lane Magallón

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Magallón, Linda Lane (2006 August). Hope For the Dream Art Underachiever. Electric Dreams 13(8).

Is displaying your dream art for all to see as intimidating for you as it was for me? I used to be very hesitant about sharing my creative efforts. Our local dream group included several professional artists and I feared my art wouldn't measure up to their standards. It took a while to feel comfortable enough to place productions under public scrutiny. In the meantime, I could encourage my fellow artists by admiring their compositions and listening to the dreams that inspired them. Then I took this supportive attitude one step further. I bought some of their art. Paintings in oil, acrylic, watercolor and colored pencil now grace various rooms in my home. Perhaps such high quality works serve as subliminal models for my Inner Artist. I hope.

My first artistic attempts were simple sketches in the margins of my dream journal. Other dreamers might make intricately embellished journals with pages ringed in lovely, ornate borders, but mine was more along the line of stick figures in a well-worn spiral notebook. Because these minimalist black and white shapes didn't satisfy a fondness for color and detail, I began clipping photos out of magazines. The photos weren't an exact match with the productions of my sleeping mind, but, then, neither were my drawings. After years of washed-out hues, I was now dreaming in vivid Technicolor® and I liked to look at the magazine pictures to celebrate the fact. This practice led to even more colorful dreams. Gazing at pictures prior to sleep turned out to be a successful form of dream incubation.

I put the magazine photos into a scrapbook and brought them to a group meeting to share while I related my dreams. It soon became evident that some elements in dreams were better understood when the dream group had something to see. Other commercially constructed products were useful visual aids, too, like plastic stickers and stamps or the black and white clip art I could fill in like a kid playing with a coloring book. Once I designed with Colorforms® (these small plastic geometric shapes can be peeled off and relocated anywhere on a board). Maybe nobody else was very impressed with the results of my hard work, but I was happy to create something bright and vivid.

When I published Dream Network Bulletin, I solicited drawings from the dreamwork community to make the newsletter visually appealing. One of our most consistent contributors was Suzanna Hart. Her expertly drawn dream cartoons were quite humorous. I noticed that, synchronistically, a few of her drawings strongly resembled my own dreams, and asked if she wouldn't mind if I matched them up. She readily agreed. Then I asked if she would illustrate one of my dreams specifically. This, she found much harder to do because it required more concentration. Suzanna told me that some of her drawings were doodled while she was talking on the telephone. Amazing. My doodles were more like firework explosions in the midst of dark smudges.

I was also pleased when a dream I submitted to another newsletter was sketched by yet a different artist. This was fun: having other people draw my dreams. It was extra flattering when other folks had dreams about me and decided to illustrate them. I was surprised to be pictured in pencil and computer graphics software. I also commissioned more elaborate artwork: plaster cast masks of my dream characters and a silver pin depicting a flying dream.

As much as I appreciated the gifts and admired the purchases, they all had the same drawback. They were based on other people's inner pictures, not mine. No matter how much detail was in the dream I related, the imagery it inspired was not my own. Nobody has invented a dream machine to print out exact copies of our visual recollections, so artists have to rely on their own memories to fill in the blanks. Their interpretations varied from my remembered dreams, sometimes a little, often a lot. Even my crude contours could be more accurate representations.

My inhibitions finally crumbled when the dream group began making art during our meetings. Guess what? Even a trained artist could be awkward when dealing with new media. It was important for all of us to realize that dreams held center stage, not artwork, so we didn't have that sort of pressure to perform. Instead, our focus was on experimentation. Over time, we tried a variety of mediums including charcoal pencils and Cray-Pas®, watercolor and poster paint. Most was done on regulation sized art paper, but I especially enjoyed the time we used sheets of butcher paper as big as we were. A visiting dreamworker took one look at my oversized production and said, "Oh, I had a dream like that." I doubt he would have recognized our dreaming parallels from a verbal description, because the similarities were of color and form.

We also tried 3-D art: milk cartons, egg cartons, colored paper, bits of felt, yarn and plenty of white paste. Plus wire and glitter, Popsicle® sticks and toothpicks, Play-Doh® and modeling clay. These elementary school supplies can tempt the Inner Child to come out and play. Children's art doesn't have to be professional, does it?

One technique I especially like is collage. It uses magazine pictures like those in my scrapbook, but these are cut into pieces, then mixed and matched with others to form an altogether new scene. Sometimes I depict an old dream; sometimes the picture I create incubates a new one. I've practiced until I can create images credible enough to be used in dream telepathy experiments. One of them doubles as the cover art for this month's issue of Electric Dreams.

None of the commercial underpinnings produce precise counterparts of my dream characters, though. I'd like to upgrade from cartoons and stick figures but I haven't taken art courses to learn how to illustrate the physical form. So, I cheat. I'll find a picture of a person with the correct general features and trace it. This serves as a template while I attempt to change the details to more closely resemble the image in my head. If I make mistakes, I can either erase the minor errors or trace the picture over again. I still can't draw correct human proportions free style, but my renditions are improving with this copycat practice. Maybe some day

If you think you have a dream art black thumb like me, here's my advice. Try finger-paints. We dreamers can so easily limit ourselves with the expectation that we must create serious adult masterpieces, because, of course, we're such serious adults. (Ha!) But if we invoke the Inner Child, instead, we'll have a lot more fun. And, we might even learn something new.

(Dream Flights)